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CE Colossicon
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The Colossicon departing Calabasas on April 10th, 1912

Owner

Stella Alba Line

Port of Registry

Abyla, Bruttium, Eurasia

Route

Torino to Utrecht

Maiden Voyage

April 10th, 1912

In service

April 10th to 15th, 1912

Identification

Callsign MGY

Fate

Hit an iceberg 11:40 p.m. (ship's time) 14 April 1912 on her maiden voyage and sank 2 h 40 min later

Status

Wreck

The CE Colossicon was a Eurasian cruise liner that sank in the Ephorisan Ocean in the early morning of April 15th, 1912 on her maiden voyage from Torino, Granada, Arveyres, to Utrecht, New Tarajan. Of the 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died in the sinking, making it one of the deadliest commercial peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.

At the time of her building, she was the largest floating object ever designed by human hands, and was thought unsinkable by her builders. She maintained a series of watertight compartments in the hull and bottom of the ship, which due to a design flaw did not extend past the E deck of the ship. Hence, when she struck an iceberg in the early morning of April 15th, 1912, breeching five of her portside forward compartments, the angling of the ship caused by her increase in displacement caused water to spill over the tops of the bulkheads, gradually filling the ship's compartments back and back sternwards. The ship could have feasibly survived in floating, if not moveable under her own power, condition with up to four compartments breached, but not five.

This gradual displacement and angled increase caused the stern to rise higher and higher out of the water as the bow sank deeper, until the bow dipped fully below water, allowing the sea to rush in through open doors and windows, quickly increasing the ship's list. The stern rose fully out of the water, exposing the keel and propellers. This put a tremendous strain on the ship's superstructure, focusing it on the weakest point of the ship, the area between her third and fourth funnels. Thus, the ship broke in half, with the stern falling back into the sea and the bow rapidly falling to the ocean floor. However, the two "halves" did not separate cleanly, and thus as the bow fully submerged it brought the stern to a near vertical angle before breaking off and separating. The stern was still mostly filled with air, and thus "bobbed" like a cork for several moments before plunging down vertically. At 2:20 AM, the ship fully slipped beneath the waves.

Due to standard Eurasian and international maritime practice at the time, there were lifeboats for only around half of the 2,200 people on board. Had the ship been carrying her full capacity of around 3,300, only a third would have been able to make it to the lifeboats. This was coupled with the crews general misunderstand or ignorance on lifeboat launch procedure; only one officer, Second Officer Carolus Herbertus Luxrotarior
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Luxrotarior was the highest ranking officer to survive the sinking.

, had been in a shipwreck before. Many lifeboats were launched half or even a third or quarter full due to the crew not knowing whether their stated capacity of sixty-five could be trusted as accurate. This was compounded as well by a women and children only policy, ensuring most of the dead were men, as well as a first class first policy ensuring many of the dead were also steerage.

The waters of the sea at that time were only just above freezing, ensuring that nearly all of the 1,500 people who went into the water as Colossicon sank died of hypothermia within 15-30 minutes. Only six survivors were pulled from the water when the only lifeboat to return, commanded by fourth officer Harold Lowe of Arveyres, arrived nearly an hour later. Many lifeboats failed to return due both to the fear that the ship's suction would pull them down and that they would be swamped by desperate survivors. The majority of individuals who survived the sinking that were not immediately in lifeboats were those aboard Collapsibles A and B, which were stowed atop the officers' quarters. As they lacked davits to be launched from, Collapsible B was launched upside down when the ship sank, and around thirty men, including Carolus Luxrotarior, survived riding atop it on. Collapsible A was successfully launched, however its canvas sides were improperly raised, forcing the survivors, mostly men, aboard it to sit in nearly a foot of freezing cold water for hours until rescue ships came.

The survivors, around 750 in total, were rescued by the Tarajani passanger ship RMS Carpathia, which had received the Colossicon's distress signal earlier that night and had sped full-steam through the icefield to reach the foundering vessel, arriving around dawn on April 15th. Several ships did return to comb the area for remaining bodies, however only 200 or so were ever recovered, the rest swept away by ocean currents or sinking to the ocean floor as their bodies decomposed. In total, 1,517 people died in the sinking.

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